by Joe Shea
October 9, 2011
CAIN, PAUL AND THE TALKING HEADS
BRADENTON, Fla., Oct. 9, 2011 -- CNN interrupted its regular programming Saturday morning to carry a 20-minute speech to the evangelical Values Voter conference by ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
They were attempting - with the best of motives, really - to influence voters around the country to sympathize with a Mormon who evangelicals say is not the "true Christian" that ought to lead our nation.
With CNN's help, Romney scored 4 percent of the vote, compared to 8 percent for Rick Perry, the Texas governor behind the religious criticism and the man whom CNN apparently believes is Romney's main competition.
Ron Paul got 37 percent and Herman Cain got 23 percent, smashing both of the CNN favorites to smithereens.
On the same day, Cain won a straw poll of the GOP's influential Midwest Leadership Conference by an astounding 52 percent, and was followed by Ron Paul.
Problem is, neither Romney nor Perry are effectively in the race any longer. The frontrunners are Herman Cain and Ron Paul, respectively, and appearances are that Godfather's Pizza founder Cain will face President Barack Obama for the White House unless the nomination is won at the convention - a near impossibility.
Yet a convention coup may be the only real solution for the panic that would follow Cain's nomination when Republicans realize Americans won't elect a black pizza-parlor magnate to the Oval Office no matter what. Gov. Chris Christie and ex-Gov. Sarah Palin could both mount such a move, and Christie's nomination might end Obama's tenure.
While Cain will do very well in the primaries, his first test will be in Michelle Bachmann's native Iowa on Jan. 3, where she handily won the caucuses in August before imploding on her overblown anti-gay and anti-Obama rhetoric. Bachmann can go from an afterthought to a barn-burner in a country minute.
So Bachmann could make a significant comeback there, and so could Romney, but it appears Gov. Perry's goose has been cooked. Ironically, he's been done in by his compassionate approach to the cost of college tuition for the kids of illegals, and his logical opposition to a 1,200-mile fence on the border. He can't win primaries because he's not irrational!
Republicans, driven by the hyperbolic exaggerations of political issues on Fox News and Clear Channel Radio shows (Limbaugh, Boortz, Schnitt, Levin, etc.), have become so aberrant that they can't see their forest of candidates for the trees that are dying before them.
The remaining moderate GOP voters - badly depleted by those who became independents, and thus can't vote in most GOP primaries - have been outnumbered by the well-organized right-wing evangelicals and libertarians in most of the straw polls and GOP state conventions. The primaries are likely to offer the same fate for their guys, even if CNN believes differently.
Disaffected voters don't go the polls, and other than the appeal of Cain, Paul and Santorum to evangelicals, there's not much to appeal to moderates in Perry and Romney, who vehemently resist that label and try to contort themselves into positions the far right will accept.
If it weren't for recent books by both men that confirm the fears of conservatives, their contortions might have had a chance. Once they wrote it all down, their transgressions against the core right positions - a working universal health care system, in-state tuition discounts for illegals, and no border fence - can't be erased. It might help to get all those books off the remainder shelves where Republicans shop and replace them with new ones like "Get Well or Die" and "Fence Me In!"
Yet I would rather have the chance to vote for Ron Paul or Herman Cain than to vote for Romney or Perry, even though I still believe there's a "good heart" somewhere inside each of the latter two.
That's because I still strongly advocate for fundamental peaceful change, and like no other politician in a century, Ron Paul offers that. I would likely, in the interest of security and caution, vote for President Obama, whom I once hoped would bring about real change, yet I think it would be great to have the chance to think about voting for Paul. How strange to feel now that Obama is the conservative choice!
I'm not a big fan of oppressive government, and since Obama failed to dismantle the super-security state of the post-PATRIOT Act era, and Ron Paul would, I'd be strongly pressed to vote for Paul as a guardian of our freedoms. If he abruptly ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I could live with that. If he replaced the Federal Reserve's currency manipulations with the gold standard, I could probably live with that. I don't believe he intends to end Social Security, which I could not live without, nor Medicare, which I could forgo, so I would be all right with him on many levels.
Herman Cain's appeal to me rests entirely on his novelty and podium-pounding speeches, along with the idea of contrasting a black candidate with another black candidate - which is right now the only way to beat the President, since it would undermine about 30 percent of Obama's black vote and hand a close election to Cain.
For those Republicans who when scratched do show the presence of racism in their blood - and unfortunately, I think there are many - it would be the ultimate humiliation, wouldn't it? They'd be forced to start a third party that would have to claim its existence had nothing to do with race, and that would undermine Cain.
In the end, though, right up until the last primary, it is Meet The Press, Fox News Sunday and Face the Nation that determine who the frontrunners are, not state conventions and straw polls.
The talking heads make their own choices and then invite them to their couches and tables to hold forth for the voters, who are supposed to go forth and vote those rascals in. It's a declining modality, as we have learned this year, and I feel the bile of panic and fear rising in their throats as they contemplate President Paul, President Cain, or Four More Years.
Right now, it's Four More Years in a cakewalk.
Joe Shea is Editor-in-Chief of The American Reporter. Members of his family have been in elected public office for more than 110 years straight.